Byvelds promises new era of action, transparency
MORRISBURG – The seventh edition of the South Dundas council was officially sworn in Sat., Dec. 1 ushering in a new era of open and transparent action, as was proclaimed by Mayor Steven Byvelds in his campaign.
The issues that lay before this council have been well documented and there is no shortage of high-priced and contentious issues to tackle.
The fact that the new council was sworn in on a bright, sunny Saturday afternoon on the heels of the Morrisburg Santa Claus Parade was both symbolic and practical in nature.
“We have a lot to do. I prefer to take the time to get started. We have got work to do next week. The first council meeting is always to get the formal stuff out of the road. Lets get it done and after that we can really get to work,” said Byvelds shortly after being officially sworn in.
New North Glengarry Mayor Jamie MacDonald, the odds on favourite to be the next Warden of SD&G, was also in attendance and offered his support of the shared vision of deputy-mayor Kirsten Gardner and Byvelds.
“I think they have a real vision for your municipality and I think they are very close in their vision. Hopefully you can all work together to see that through,” said MacDonald.
The North Glengarry mayor also took a few light-hearted stabs at the council and their campaigns.
“Archie [Mellan], you’re the last man standing so you’re pretty much in charge for the first six months,” joked MacDonald. “And I’m really looking forward to the Hollywood movie that you guys are going to be putting out – Steve 2.0.”
South Stormont Mayor Bryan McGillis also offered his congratulations and hoped to continue the two municipalities’ long standing relationship.
“South Stormont has always had a lot in common with South Dundas and we’ve always had a great working relationship. I extend my hand and look forward to working collaboratively with South Dundas in the next term of Council,” said McGillis.
Gardner was also happy to finally get the keys to the office and get to work.
“I absolutely take the office seriously so I feel the weight, which is not a bad thing, the responsibility and the trust that is involved with a position on council and I’m ready to go,” she said. “I want the residents to see some progress. I know that sometimes government doesn’t move as fast as some folks would like, but I’m ready to drive some results. We won’t be able to tackle everything right away but I would like to see us tackle some looming issues that came forward during the campaign.”
The new deputy-mayor also maintained that just because the election campaign is over, residents shouldn’t feel like they need to be any less involved.
“I want to continue to listen. I hope people don’t disappear for the next four years and just wait. I’d like to see people get engaged and get involved. If they’ve got solutions or ideas or elements for some of the items we have to address, I’d like to see them have the conversation with us,” she said.
In his inaugural address, Byvelds spread a message of cohesiveness, connectivity and collaboration.
“Our most valuable resource is our people. It’s us, you and me, our volunteers, our municipal staff, council, residents – [it’s] all of us,” he said.
Byvelds made no bones about South Dundas not only correcting their course, but exceeding expectations.
“I vow to work with council, with staff and with you to move South Dundas forward into a future that will see this municipality’s progress four years from now, be the envy of our neighbours. Does this set the bar high? It certainly does, but I believe you must dream big to realize what you want to do. Setting standards that are great, but achievable,” he said.
There is no denying the determination and energy each one of the new councillors showed in the early hours of their time in office, not yet laden with second guessing from the public or the media.
Gardner echoed those sentiments.
“I’m just looking for us to have a louder, stronger, and, for lack of a better word, brighter representation around the council table and get some things done,” she said.
With the formalities taken care of at the earliest possible date, the new council held it’s inaugural meeting last night (Tues., Dec. 4) and will finally really roll up their sleeves in their committee of the whole meeting scheduled for Tues., Dec. 11.